The annoying “beep” of the borrowed watch on my wrist woke me at 5:15 AM. I crept across the darkened room and looked out through the door. The sky was velvet black with the faintest trace of dawn lightening the eastern sky. I went back to the warmth of my sleeping bag and dozed until 5:50 when I got up and woke the others.
We dressed & readied our gear then went out into the cold air and walked over to the bae of the knob opposite the one with the Hermitage on it. The climb to the top only took 10 minutes and we reached the summit just in time for the beginning of the most awesome sunrise I have ever seen.
Silhouetted against a background of crimson and blue, three high peaks in a landscape of pillars and domes stood as mighty monuments to the horrific volcanic violence that formed the Hoggar Mountains millions of years ago. As we watched, the sky bled from crimson to pink then to orange until, finally, the great ball of the sun burst into view with incredible brilliance, bathing the whole visible world in warm, golden light.
As the sky lightened the far away ranges and plains took on various shades of blue and gold and then the clean, white sunlight blotted out the view with its impossible brilliance.
We stayed at the top of the peak watching that amazing spectacle for 2 hours and it is without doubt the highlight of the trip. We dropped back down to the huts for a breakfast of coffee, bread and marmalade then packed our gear into the two Toyotas.
Linda and I spent a bit of time talking to the local donkeys then we headed down the mountain, stopping every now and then to take photos of the amazing landscape.
En route back we stopped at a little cafe in the middle of nowhere beside, surprise, surprise, a small river! We followed a track down to a deep and clear rock pool where we sat for a while watching a shepherd and his two dogs pass by with a herd of goats.
The cafe was run by an man who was as mad as you would expect someone who lived out there would be. We had fruit juice and some biscuits in the cool of the little stone building and Russ gave him a kangaroo stick pin which he put in his turban. Then Linda rummaged through her stuff and presented him with a postcard from London showing a Palace guard and a punk. The old boy went into raptures! We left him talking away to himself outside his little stone cafe & drove the bumpy and dusty road back to Tamanrassat.
Back at camp we packed up the truck & drove into town. I went to the Post Office &, lo, a letter for me from Joe, mysteriously filed under “F”. I posted some mail then we bought a supply of oranges, orange juice and chocolate then hit the road.
We drove the remainder of the afternoon away and camped beside the road about 100 km from Tamanrasset.